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All About Mary


The following Nativities are each displayed in a unique permanent setting created by Marian Library Crèche Collection volunteers. The descriptive text for each was written by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

nativity set from Hungary

Princely Canopy
Terez Patona

Although only a simple structure resting on four posts over a gabled roof, the house where the baby dwells has nothing of the windswept shelter of fortune frequently encountered in rural areas. The steeply built roof with its proud gable gives the set the appearance of old reliquaries. Even better, it resembles a princely canopy worthy of the noble company gathered in its shelter. Indeed, Mary sits in queenly posture, the baby on her lap. They are surrounded by four figures standing in rigid deference. One of them is Joseph, the others are the magi holding gifts. This very attractive ceramic set in brown and gold tones is a jewel-case with a lid that does never come off because it represents the canopy of heaven itself.

– ML.1119.07

nativity set from Hungary

Against the Blues
Unknown artist

Minimal art in the Crèche tradition tends to freeze facial expressions into some distant interiority. Each figure is a world in itself celebrating the beauty of self-containment and separation. It no longer holds true then that "nobody is an island?" There is one redeeming factor: the eyes. They seem to utter the northern proverb: "Blue are the hills that are far away." And so this set became the "blue nativity." A superficial observation of the figures may give you the blues. A second look may rekindle the conviction that distance lends enchantment to the view, a distance that allows for the whole picture, not some ephemeral sentimentality or backward bent nostalgia. The whole picture is Christ yesterday, today, and tomorrow… a sure cure against the blues.

[Elisabeth van Mullekom Collection]

– MLA.476

nativity set from Hungary

Twice Born?
Unknown artist

Is Jesus twice born? In a way. He was born to his mother, to Joseph and the shepherds, not to forgot ox and ass, on December 25. On January 6, he was born, so-to-speak, to the whole world represented by the magi. Latin countries tend to celebrate Christmas on January 6, the feast of Epiphany, which corresponds to original Christmas tradition. Epiphany means revelation, the revelation of God's goodness in Jesus. The custom of exchanging gifts on January 6 in Latin cultures has its origin in God's gift to the world, and the magi's gifts of gold, incense and myrrh to see child. In this nativity set of cut-out figures the two moments of Christ's birth have been combined. Cut-out figures owe their existence to the Jesuit theater tradition originating in the 18th century.

[Elisabeth van Mullekom Collection]

– MLA.558


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